August 15, 2008
More Left Behind Movies?
Settlement ends legal dispute; more end-times flicks could be on the way
A nine-year legal dispute between the producers of the Left Behind movies and Tim LaHaye, who co-authored the books, came to an end last week when a settlement was reached between both parties.
Cloud Ten Pictures announced that the agreement ends a dispute that began in 2000.
According to The Christian Post, LaHaye had filed a lawsuit against Cloud Ten, claiming that the producers made a lower quality film than the contract demanded. Still, the first Left Behind film sold almost 3 million copies before its theatrical release in 2001, and earned $2.1 million on opening weekend. LaHaye was also reportedly dissatisfied with Cloud Ten's distribution strategies for the three Left Behind movies made so far.
The settlement gives LaHaye the right to remake the first three films based on his books, but if he doesn't exercise his option to remake the films, Cloud Ten will retain its current rights to make sequels.
"We are thrilled to finally have this behind us," said Andre van Heerden, CEO of Cloud Ten. "While we received repeated judgments from the courts that validated our rights, we were unable until now to finally put this lawsuit behind us."
LaHaye and co-author Jerry Jenkins told the Los Angeles Times in 2006 that they had naively sold the movie rights too early, ending up with what Jenkins called "church basement movies," with Kirk Cameron in the lead role. (Cameron, coincidentally, is starring in Fireproof, another Christian film coming in September from the makers of Facing the Giants.)
While the three films--Left Behind (2000), Tribulation Force (2002) and World at War (2005)--have enjoyed big sales and popularity in the Christian market, most critics would agree with Jenkins' assessment, usually giving the films low marks.
Cloud Ten producer Peter Lalonde told CT Movies in 2005 that he expected mainstream critics "to hammer us just because of the [Christian] message. . . . Of course, Hollywood sends messages every day, but they have always had this mindset toward Christian films, and frankly I think they still do."
The Left Behind series of books have sold a whopping 65 million copies. The 16th and final book released in April, 2007.